India has refused to respond to a submission from the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (HRC) on the alleged violations in Jammu and Kashmir. It has told the UN body that it will no longer entertain any communication with the HRCs Special Rapporteurs on its report. In its reply, the Indian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva accused the body of “individual prejudice” adding that “India… does not intend to engage further with these mandate-holders or any other mandate-holders on the issue.
Incidentally, the report from the UN body came at the same time two Kashmir based rights bodies Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) released a report on the alleged cases of torture. The 560-page report released on Monday mentions solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, and sexualised torture including rape and sodomy against Kashmiris. This report has also been endorsed by former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez who termed the document a “landmark” and hoped “it will be an example to other civil society organizations in India and in other countries as a model.
Earlier, the UNHRC report published in June last year – the first-ever such report on Jammu and Kashmir – had documented human rights excesses in Kashmir based on the media and the other reports including those from the government agencies. The report spanned the entire J&K including the part under Pakistan’s administration. But New Delhi rejected the report terming it “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”.
The UNHRC has since proposed a Commission of Inquiry on the state and sought access to both sides of the state. Islamabad has already said it was ready to facilitate the access of the Commission to its part of Kashmir if India gives a similar access to the UN team to Jammu and Kashmir. But that hasn’t happened. New Delhi has already made it known that the report violates its sovereignty and hence it won’t cooperate. And with the fresh UN request too, India has responded along similar lines.
This has, once again, created a familiar deadlock on the state. And it is a tragedy. What should have been an opportunity to introspect and look dispassionately at the situation in the state has been turned into a blame-game with the UN. New Delhi has sought rather to look at the development through terror lens, as if the situation in Kashmir was existing in a vacuum, artificially created by meddling of Pakistan. There is no acknowledgement of the local factors underpinning this situation. There is no appreciation that that there is an urgent need to grapple with the root causes that breed violence. This situation seems unlikely to change unless New Delhi takes a more constructive view of the UN report and the world body’s fresh request and takes visible steps to improve the human rights situation in J&K.